Saturday, 1 March 2014


boxer, Iron Mike

When Mike Tyson was in prison public consensus was that he was still the best heavyweight, dare I say, boxer, on the planet. When he was released from prison he already signed for millions of dollars with Don King for his return to the ring. His record, 41-1 showed how good he was, except for that one night fluke in Japan against a now “no one” in Buster Douglas.
Before he lost to Douglas, he was not only the “unbeatable” Baddest man on the planet, he was ranked number one, pound for pound best boxer in the world. So, Tyson was perceived as the real heavyweight champ, and was admittedly, licking his chops, looking at how the titles were being passed around, dreaming of unifying them again. The titles went around from person to person when Mike was in prison. Once Iron Mike owned the title of “champ,” – the one, the only – now there were a bunch of guys with belts claiming the same thing that just weren’t as fun, or as entertaining to watch.
The first thing people think about when the name, Mike Tyson, comes up is his punching power; but I submit that it wasn’t only his natural punching ability that made Mike as good as he was, it was a combination of talents. Mike was freakishly fast for a heavyweight, able to unload up to five punches in less than two seconds. In addition to his hand-speed and punching power, Mike had phenomenal head movement, making him extraordinarily difficult to hit while he bobbed and weaved looking for the opportunity to unload not just one; but a whole volley of power shots on his opponent.

Now, here’s the trick; obviously there were things about Mike we hadn’t learned at the time of the Spinks fight that we know now. For example, with Muhammad Ali, his peak was arguably against Cleveland Williams, since we’ll never know how good he could have been during the three years he was banned from fighting. At the time of the Williams fight, nobody knew how good Ali could take a punch because no one had really been able to hit him solid, with the obvious exceptions of Henry Cooper and Sonny Banks. It was only after we saw Ali fight in the second half of his career, that we knew he had a granite jaw. Since granite does not grow overnight and a fighter’s chin does not get better with time, we have to presume Ali could take a punch just as well at 25 as he could at 35, if not better. Cliché, though it is, hindsight is 20/20, so we might as well use it.

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